The presentations shown here were presented by St. Norbert College at the Undergraduate Research Forum.
In this study the geological concept of Plate Tectonics was adapted to a 2nd grade learning level. Unlike a regular lesson plan, this project emphasized the geological concept. A major aspect of the work was taking higher level ideas and presenting them in engaging ways to address multiple learning such as kinesthetic and visual learning, via plate tectonics.
Emma O'Neill, Will Butak, Audrey Makope, and Morgan Gauthier
The antimicrobial effectiveness and level of biofilm inhibition of three compounds from Rockline Industries were tested, along with five compounds made by the St. Norbert College Organic Chemistry Department. The Rockline compounds, ColaLipid (CL), Sodium Benzoate (NaB) and Benzoic Acid (BA), were solubilized in 10% DMSO and tested at concentrations of 0.15%, 0.10%, and 0.01%. To ensure that any growth effects were due to the compounds in question, DMSO was also tested for antimicrobial activity. The compounds were tested against safe relative of eight bacteria of clinical importance (Acinetobacter baylyi, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus raffinosus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida, Staphylococcus epidermidis) and one species of fungus (Candida albicans). The antimicrobial properties of these compounds were measured by reading absorbance at 600 nm of overnight cultures. Biofilm formation inhibition was measured using a crystal violet biofilm assay. ColaLipid and Benzoic Acid were found to inhibit growth of the bacterial and fungal strains, while Sodium Benzoate did not. Of the compounds synthesized by in St. Norbert organic chemists, two showed consistent inhibition of growth and three did not. ColaLipid, Benzoic Acid, and one organic compound showed consistent inhibition of biofilm formation.
Burkholderia cepacia is a gram-negative bacterium found in water and soil that is known to cause infection in plants and humans. Limited treatments are available for this bacteria due to widespread antibiotic resistance and a lack of knowledge of the mechanisms of virulence used by B. cepacia. This work seeks to identify virulence factors needed for pathogenesis. Transposon mutagenesis in B. cepacia ATCC 25416 was used to generate mutants that were screened for defects in pathogenesis in an onion infection model and mutant 370 was selected for further studies. Recent data from the model demonstrate that the mutant produced smaller wound sizes beginning at 48 hours post-infection, indicating that the gene product may be involved in promoting infection in a host. Genetic characterization of mutant 370 determined that the mutation occurred in the thiG gene on chromosome 1, whose product is predicted to be a thiazole synthase, which is likely used in the metabolic processes of the bacteria and could play a role in infection. The transmembrane hydropathy plot suggests that the gene product is found in the cytoplasm, which corresponds to its expected use in the metabolism. Examination of the growth and biofilm production assays revealed that the thiG mutant displays stunted growth and limited biofilm production, suggesting that thiG is not involved in virulence but instead plays an important role in the basic metabolism of the bacteria. Future research will focus on determining thiG’s involvement in metabolism to determine if thiG could be an important target for antibacterials.
Zoonotic diseases are transmitted to humans from wildlife and often pose serious health risks. One such disease, gnathostomiasis, is caused by parasitic nematodes in the genus Gnathostoma, commonly transmitted by consumption of infected undercooked freshwater fish. Lately, movement of animals over international borders has increased, leading to emerging zoonotic diseases (2018; CDC – One Health Basics). Human gnathostomiasis is just one example.
This project expands on previous research (Cole et al.) which identified Gnathostoma in invasive eels and imported eels from food markets, using morphological features and DNA sequences of the ribosomal RNA gene array’s ITS-2 (intergenic transcribed spacer-2) region. DNA barcoding is a system used to identify species by using short DNA sequences of a common region of the genome, often a particular gene, that can distinguish between species. The cytochrome ‘c’ oxidase subunit 1 (CO1) gene is one such common barcoding gene, along with the 28s and CO2 genes. The method uses universal primers to amplify this barcoding gene.
From 20 extracted DNA samples provided by Dr. Rebecca Cole, 8 were selected as an overall representation for this project. 4 G. spinigerum, 3 G. turgidum, and 1 G. lamothei were selected to present on. PCR amplification was done to amplify the 28s, CO1, and CO2 genes. Amplified products were purified and sent to MCLabs (South San Francisco, CA) for sequencing and DNA sequences were assembled, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/), followed by (phylo)genetic analyses. This study provides the first comprehensive multi-gene characterization of these nematodes.
In the present study, we sought to examine guilt and shame in relation to an individual’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is an evaluative construct that is vital to one’s self-concept and plays an important role in an individual’s positive progress (Metalsky et al., 1993). In both social and personality psychology research, this construct is one of the most frequently measured (Gray-Little et al., 1997). Both guilt and shame are feelings evoked by distressing personal transgressions, oftentimes used interchangeably, as they both relate to one’s self-concept, aiding in self-regulation in service of social expectations (Gray-Little et al., 1997). Low self-esteem has been linked to shame proneness, and negative self evaluations (NSEs) (e.g. feeling bad about oneself) following public transgressions (Tangney & Dearing, 2002) Shame-prone individuals have shown similar characteristics to those who have low self-esteem and often engage in behaviors that seem problematic or maladaptive (Thomas & Warren-Findlow, 2020). Among college students in the United States, negative behaviors such as poor diet and sleep quality, low physical activity, and heavy substance abuse can contribute to risks such as development of chronic disease (Thomas & Warren-Findlow, 2020). The present study focuses specifically on college students experiencing these stressors which we believe have an impact on one’s self-esteem and will produce significant results in finding a relationship between low self-esteem and shame-proneness.
Early adulthood is a developmental stage in which romantic relationships often take priority (Ciesielski & Janowicz, 2021). Parents and parent-in-laws play an important role in new romantic relationships, even before marriage, and their role increases as the couple becomes more serious (Ciesielski & Janowicz, 2021). The family acts as a socialization agent by transferring schemas from parents to children, and the family’s role in an adult child’s life can influence attitudes toward outsiders (Young & Schrodt, 2016). Meeting one’s family is often viewed as an important milestone in a relationship because parents’ approval of a couple’s relationship has been shown to have an impact on future aspects of that relationship. The present study examined what the process of introducing a new romantic partner to one’s family entailed, the relational implications of such an introduction and also attempted to explore how culture can be an influencing factor on expectations surrounding romantic relationships. Initial findings indicated that Introducing a new partner to one’s family has the potential to introduce tension into the familial relationship, but it also has the potential to bring about increased closeness with one’s parents and new relationships with the partner’s family. Participants have different motivations for wanting to introduce their partners to their family members, and this process can shape how the relationship proceeds and how the relationship between the partner and family members affects the romantic relationship. Overall, findings indicated that family members’ communicated acceptance is important for adult children, and relief was a common emotion expressed after the introduction occurred. Based on findings from this investigation, the research team was also able to provide advice for family members and romantic partners about how to approach this introduction.
Trends in Weight Perception, Weight Loss Behaviors, and Body Mass Index among Young Adults: An Analysis of Race and Gender
This study investigates the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI), weight perception, and weight loss behaviors over time in a cohort of young adults. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, 1997, we track changes in BMI and weight perception from ages 12 to 40. Results indicate that while BMI increases over time for all young adults, young men more frequently perceive changes in weight over time compared to young women. Moreover, we find substantial weight perception disparities among young women but not young men. Overall, results indicate that the social perception of weight and weight loss behaviors are closely related to gender and race for young adults.
Planarian flatworms have many stem cells called neoblasts which makes them adept at regenerating tissue after injury. This project aims to determine if neoblasts from two different species of planarians—Schmidtea mediterranea and Dugesia japonica—can integrate into the regenerated tissue of the other species. This is done by transplantation of a donor tissue plug from one species into a host planarian of the opposite species. After the host planarian is injured, neoblasts travel to the site of injury and begin regeneration of tissue. We have worked to optimize the transplantation procedure to visually obtain a 75% success rate. Simultaneously, we have begun to attempt to optimize a protocol for colorimetric in situ hybridization that gives optimal staining of neoblasts for both species so that we will be able to determine which neoblasts from which species are involved in regeneration following injury.
Diversity is a growing issue in our society. However, little is known about how people make judgments about and define “diversity”, which is a broad term. The aim of this research was to help us understand how people define diversity— for example, whether a person narrows down the definition of diversity versus having an ambiguous definition of diversity. We hypothesized that there would be an association between age and definitions of diversity, such that older people define diversity differently than younger people.
Inland sand dunes are widespread in northeast Wisconsin. Today, almost all of the dunes are stabilized by modern vegetation, and there are no active dune fields. Dune formation is believed to have occurred in the geologic past shortly after the end of the Wisconsin Glaciation (last ice age) under rapidly-changing climatic conditions. This project seeks to establish the paleoclimate conditions and history of dune formation in northeast Wisconsin, specifically Oconto County, by geologic mapping from LiDAR surveys and analyzing temporal controls on dune formation determined using unpublished optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates. Findings are then related to knowledge of past climate conditions, and extrapolated into new understandings of regional dune reactivation during the 20th c. Dust Bowl, and potential for future reactivation using forecasted climate change models.
Analysis Of Land Use In Rockbridge County, VA From Pre-Colonial Times To Current Day And Consequences For Riparian Ecosystems
Virginia implemented one of the earliest programs of internal improvements to the US, called The Fund for Internal Improvement, after the American Revolution in 1816. This was due to a sense of urgency within the state to share in the wealth of the newly developed country. To put the program into action, Virginia depended on its extensive river system to facilitate its commercial needs. Emplacement of dams causes a decrease in stream velocity which allows suspended sediments to settle out behind the structure. These legacy sediments can archive changes in land use activities such as agriculture, timbering, and development replaced indigneous stewardship. The goal of this study is to learn about the land use history of the region and determine risks, hazards, and effects associated with the remobilization of these sediments by analyzing these legacy sediments. Maps and other historical data will be used to construct GIS visualizations of past and present land use, and create estimates of floodplain and water level during the various intervals of history in the watershed. Assessing the geochemistry of the sediments and water can help us interpret the possible hazards associated with sediment remobilization and drinking water access. This study will provide a better understanding of how river channels, banks, and waters were impacted by the emplacement and (when applicable) removal of dams, hydrologic impacts of dams, impacts land use has had on rivers/creeks, and how the channel has been altered due to dams and land use.
Forest inventory studies are important for understanding forest succession. Periodic forest inventories are important to understand how the forest changes and what the changes mean for the health of the forest. The data gathered in this inventory will start a long-term study on the forest succession at the St. Norbert College Natural Sciences Field Station. Measurements were conducted with a variety of forestry instruments to determine tree species, diameter at breast height (dbh), canopy cover, and tree height. Measured trees were marked with metal tags and coordinates were recorded using a handheld GPS unit. Mature tree species were a focal point of the study although other species were noted. The long term goal of this study is to collect data periodically on tree dimensions, diversity, and richness to study long term trends of forest succession at this site. The data will advance a research partnership that is capable of educating stakeholders on the forest dynamics of the site that will aid in implementing conservation and management actions.
In 2016, approximately 248,000 girls were arrested in the United States (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2016). At a time when the criminal justice system faces new forms of scrutiny, media representations of criminality and incarceration become especially consequential. Our research investigates how a popular reality TV show portrays girls’ experiences within the juvenile justice system. We conducted an analysis of the Netflix docuseries Girls Incarcerated. We developed and applied analytic codes to every episode in Season One and Season Two. We found that the show portrayed juvenile detention centers as reformative—as institutions that encourage incarcerated girls to change their lives for the better. Two frames, including hard work and structure, emerged in support of this overarching theme. Specifically, the series depicted the girls adopting constructive behaviors, changing dysfunctional attitudes, and pursuing new goals. This ‘hard work’ was prompted and supported by the juvenile detention center’s programming, namely advising and school that were heavily infused with accountability structures. The ‘reform’ narrative that emerged in our coding of Girls Incarcerated is deeply problematic in its romanticizing of incarceration’s purposes and possibilities. The prescriptions of hard work and accountability may make for good TV, but they ignore the empirical realities of girls’ experiences in the criminal justice system.
Identification and Report of Parasites Trematoda and Acanthocephala Found in Fulica americana from Oconto, Wisconsin
This project focuses on the morphological and molecular characterization of two parasites, a thorny-headed worm (Acanthocephala) and an intestinal trematode fluke (Neoleucochloridium) from the American Coot, Fulica americana, from Oconto, Wisconsin. The bird was necropsied, parasites were extracted and fixed for morphology and DNA sequence analysis. Techniques used included: DNA extraction, amplification of target genes (28S rRNA gene), staining to prepare whole mounts and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The acanthocephalan species was identified as Polymorphus trochus and single trematode was identified as Neoleucochloridium. This is the first DNA sequence data for Neoleucochloridium.
Nick Brauer, Claire Garvey, Morgan Gauthier, and Jessica Dagenais
In collaboration with Rockline Industries, Sheboygan, WI, the antimicrobial activity of two surfactants have been evaluated over a range of pH. The pH of 10% commercial surfactant in water was adjusted using three organic acid/organic base pairs including citric acid, benzoic acid/sodium benzoate, and salicylic acid/sodium salicylate. Inhibition of growth of a series of bacteria and fungi over a pH range of 2-7 will be described. Additionally, the chemical synthesis and evaluation of the antibacterial activity of a novel zwitterionic surfactant will be discussed.
Britney Breckheimer and Cassie Nooyen
Through its framework, Full Spectrum Learning creates a vocabulary for the examination of a broad range of learning environments and encourages us to share stories about transformative teaching and learning experiences.
Emily Dehmer and Kalista Arendt
Smiling is a universal facial expression that conveys happiness. People wonder if it is smiling that leads to happiness or happiness that leads to smiling. The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that smiling leads to happiness. A lot of controversy surrounds the facial feedback hypothesis because there have been numerous other studies whose results have disputed it. Therefore, it is important to check the validity of studies promoting the facial feedback hypothesis. The hypothesis under investigation was that smiling increases funniness ratings for cartoons. It is meaningful to test this hypothesis because there are practical implications of the research as well as broader connections to other theories of emotion. If supported, it would suggest that people could improve their mood by smiling. Participants (n = 37) in the study were undergraduate college students (94.60% white, 75.68% female). Participants performed a variety of actions using a marker held in their mouths. They were instructed to either hold a marker in their teeth without touching it with their lip (hence, smiling) or to hold a marker in their lips (hence, not smiling). With the marker in their mouths, participants performed and rated the difficulty of a variety of tasks, and then rated four comics from Gary Larson’s The Far Side for funniness. There were not any significant differences between funniness ratings by participants holding the marker with their teeth and by participants holding the marking with their lips. This research suggests that smiling does not lead to higher funniness ratings. Further research may try to find a different method to test the validity of the facial feedback hypothesis by presenting more up-to-date comics and manipulating facial expressions without participants’ awareness. While Gary Larson’s The Far Side comics were amusing for their time, they seemed dated and unhumorous to the participants. In a future study, to increase external validity and applicability, the participant makeup should be more consistent with that of the general population. There should be a more broad population of participants given the lack of ethnic and age diversity.
While there is a wide variety of research about personality in the field of psychology, there is still a gap in the political science literature. Within the past decade, political scientists have begun to investigate how personality affects political behavior including candidate evaluations and voting. Generally, this study intends to build upon a burgeoning area of research that will help further explain how individuals may use their own personality traits to make judgments about the personalities of political candidates through psychological mechanisms such as projection. Data for this study will be collected using a survey that asks participants to express their agreement towards statements that describe different elements of personality, including the Big Five personality traits and other measures like need for closure, need for cognition, and need for chaos. Other survey questions will test projection effects and ask about political preferences and demographic characteristics to strengthen the association between individuals’ personality traits and how they behave in the political world. Overall, this research will amalgamate prior studies of personality and political behavior with studies of projection effects in hopes of testing if projection is a valid mechanism for mediating the association between personality and political behavior, as it is clear that personality cannot directly predict how someone will vote or evaluate a candidate.
Helen Fischer and Lydia Klatt
Acanthocephalans, known colloquially as “thorny-headed” worms, are parasites that possess a spiny eversible proboscis which is utilized to secure the worm in the gut of its host (see attached figure). They are found in invertebrates and in vertebrates, including fish where they are common (Goater et al. 2014. Parasitism: The diversity and ecology of animal parasites. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.).
A study of parasites of creek chub, Semotilus atromaculatus from Baird Creek, Green Bay, yielded specimens from 3 genera of the phylum Acanthocephala (Pomphorhynchus, Acanthocephalus, and Neoechinorhynchus). This study focuses on the Acanthocephalus species found, using molecular (DNA sequence) data and morphological analyses. DNA sequence data from the 28S and 18S regions of the rRNA gene array indicates similarity with several Acanthocephalus species but no identical match.
Thus far, we have generated DNA sequence data of the 28S rRNA gene from 6 individuals of Acanthocephalus species collected from creek chub, by PCR amplification. Comparison of these sequences with sequences of other Acanthocephalus species available in GenBank (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) has uncovered genetic differences with these other species, including the most probable match—Acanthocephalus dirus, an anatomically similar North American species with a wide distribution that includes Wisconsin. Preliminary morphological analysis through measurements of specimens on prepared slides suggests similarity to a species of Acanthocephalus that currently lacks genetic sequence data, A. parksidei that was described from the Pike River in southeastern Wisconsin (Amin, 1975. Journal of Parasitology, 61(2), 318-29.). However, Amin (1984, Proceedings of The Helminthological Society of Washington, 51(2):225-237) later synonymized A. parksidei with A. dirus. The molecular data generated so far in this study contradicts this synonymy and rather suggests that there are, in fact, two separate species.
In order to characterize Acanthocephalus sp. and discover its relation to A. parksidei and A. dirus, we will prepare stained whole mounts from preserved specimens that originate from a variety of fish host types, complete PCR amplifications of additional isolates, and use Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) for the first time on these Acanthocephalus specimens to generate additional data. We will then link genetic data to the morphology, and evaluate if Acanthocephalus sp. is a new species.
Minimal genetic data has been generated to characterize species of the genus Acanthocephalus and link those data to the morphology of the worms; therefore, data generated by this study will lead to additional research in the future and a significant expansion of knowledge regarding this understudied parasite. If the Acanthocephalus sp. being studied here is found to be a new species, this research would provide both a molecular and morphological description of the worm and eventually document it in the published literature. If Acanthocephalus sp. is found to be A. parksidei, then this research will rectify the incorrect synonymy of this species with A. dirus, establish it as a valid independent species, and provide the first sequence data from the species in GenBank.
During an analysis of parkland inventory, staff for the Village of Bellevue Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department learned that the Village was not meeting minimum standards of developed park space, as defined by the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA). The parks did not appear to be equitably distributed throughout Bellevue, with some regions of the village having access to several parks, and others having access to none. This project completed an assessment of Bellevue’s ability to provide equitable access to parks through safe, multi-modal entries and created an analysis of the quality of amenities within each of the Bellevue parks. Findings from this Park Accessibility study found that Bellevue prioritizes parks in higher income areas, while ignoring communities disproportionately affected by poverty. There are several reasonable recommendations that can help the Village of Bellevue move forward in their goal of achieving a village park within a 10- minute walk of every resident.
Flavobacterium columnare protease knockout shows potential for vaccine development against columnaris disease
Flavobacterium columnare is a gram negative, slender rod bacterium that primarily infects salmonids in hot or cold water systems. Columnaris disease is symptomatically represented by long “straw-like” colonies on mucosal surfaces of fish species. Fish infection trials have been conducted to understand infectivity however, the cause of pathogenesis is still under investigation. These strictly aerobic bacteria require a unique apparatus called the Type Nine Secretion System (T9SS) to infect fish. The T9SS is involved in both secretion and motility. Essential T9SS genes characterized include porV and gldN genes which have been shown to be essential for virulence of F. columnare in fish. The porV and gldN effects on the T9SS have been studied extensively to understand their contributions pathogenesis of columnaris disease. The aim of the current study is to understand specific cargo of the T9SS and its effect on virulence. Using a zebrafish mortality assay and silver stain gel techniques, we examined the effect of spent media (containing proteins secreted by the bacterium) from both wild type F. columnare and strains with knockouts in genes coding for multiple proteases thought to be secreted by the T9SS. Results suggest the strains lacking specific metalloproteases appear to be reduced in virulence, while several other protease knockouts show wild-type virulence. Continued genetic manipulation of F. columnare strains and virulence testing in our zebrafish model should shed more light on the mechanisms by which F. columnare causes disease in fish and may lead to the identification of vaccine candidates.
Planarians possess a primitive excretory system called protonephridia, which consists of an organized network of branched tubes that function in waste filtration and water regulation. On a cellular and molecular level, the planarian excretory system shows considerable homology to the human excretory system: the kidney. Knowing what genes are necessary for a functional excretory system, how the genes interact, and mechanisms that alter normal gene function leading to disease is critical for the development of treatments for excretory system diseases. Furthermore, understanding flatworm-specific genes, many of which are parasitic to humans, may provide useful drug targets for treating parasitic worm infections.
A recent, significant advancement has been the development of single-cell transcriptomic technologies that allow for the ability to examine gene expression profiles of individual cells (Figure 1). Planarians were the first organism to have these technologies applied to determine the expression profile of all of the animal’s cells (Fincher, 2018). However, only a few of the 3,000 protonephridia genes identified and available via the public database (https://digiworm.wi.mit.edu/) were validated by Fincher et al. To further explore the genes required for excretory system function, we have chosen the 48 most highly expressed protonephridia genes from the Fincher 2018 paper to analyze via bioinformatics, RNA mediated interference, and in situ hybridization.
In this presentation, I will address the causes and effects of the refugee reception crisis in France in the hopes of better understanding refugee reception and integration for a future project which will be more in-depth and comprehensive. Specifically, I will analyze the plight of Syrian refugees in France. Due to the gradual nature of the Syrian refugee crisis which has been developing for a decade or more, there has not been a lot of empirical research on its causes or implications, which is surprising given its political and media salience. The research that has already been conducted has mostly focused on public perceptions of the refugees and their experiences at the various stages of the refugee application process and integration into society if accepted; I would like to take a more empirical approach concerning the economic and political impact of the Syrian refugees in France. I plan to examine some general trends such as the impact of terrorism on refugees, the impact of refugees on the political climate, and a brief evolution and analysis of French refugee policy. I will provide a comprehensive compilation of data and trends pertaining to the experiences of refugees, their impact on communities, and why French refugee policy is what it is.
Precise control of a laser diode’s wavelength is necessary for atomic research. A laser housing is used to provide precise mechanical control of the wavelength. Typically, these housings are either commercially purchased or milled from metal. We also designed a 3D printed housing for a laser tunable at 1015 nm whose performance was tested using atomic spectroscopy and found to be comparable to the metal housing while being a fraction of the cost. We also used atomic transitions to confirm the laser properties of a commercially purchased laser tunable at 1529 nm through a process called Electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT).
Need a new and exciting way to work out while also jamming to your favorite tunes? Look no further than BeatBox, a virtual reality rhythm game! Inspired by the popular VR game Beat Saber, BeatBox allows players to use their own songs (mp3 or wav format) and punch blocks that come at them to the beat. The game features a constant beats-per-minute mode that works great with songs that have a constant BPM. Alternatively, there is a beat detection mode that tries to automatically determine when the beat is.